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These are the old sounds. Old instruments like shawms and lyres. Percussion and song that reminds me of Native American drum circles. Singing in parallel fifths something akin to Gregorian Chant.

These are the new sounds. Electric bass. Irish bouzouki. Intricate harmonies.

Krauka performs Viking music. I'm glad they put a label on it themselves so I didn't have to find one. This blend of old and new, sounding both ancient and contemporary, tugs at my ears in wonderful ways. The sounds don't quite fit into the boxes my brain wants to build, so I'm happy to let Krauka build those for me.

The band started as storytellers. Stories of sailing, of battles, of dancing, of magical creatures. Through these songs I sail with Krauka, I fight, I dance, I embrace the darkness and the light. I sing along. Even though I don't know the words, I make the sounds and join in. When I sing along with “Ljósiđ Kemur,” I feel the Nordic extremes of darkness and light. And joining in on the chorus of “Ormurinn Langi,” I feel the ship, the rowing, the battle, and I'm ready for drinking which will follow the victory.

Krauka recorded these songs in a small town in Iceland. On their website, Krauka says the recording was completed in 10 days of intensive studio work along with “bathing trips in hot springs, delicious food..., hikes in nature, and beer and aquavit in the workshop.” All of that comes through in this recording.

There is a visceral feeling in these songs that ties old sounds to new. There is an energy in the stories they tell. And it all works in ways that perhaps only Viking music can. - Greg Harness

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